Botswana: How to Us Still in the Game

25 September 2019

A media tour organized by renowned local cement and aggregates producer, PPC Botswana last week led local scribes to How To Us Investment, a co-operative sewing project made up of five women in Molepolole who are striving for excellence to put food on the table.

The PPC initiative started off with a tour of the PPC Cement Plant in Gaborone West Industrial where journalists were given insights on the processing, packaging, types of cement and their various use suitability, before proceeding to the PPC Kgale Quarry and concluding the schedule with a visit to the PPC funded project called, 'How To Us Investment'. How To Us is a women's sewing company that creates products such as laptop bags, handbags, shopping bags and pencil cases out of cement paper bags provided by PPC. They also produce clothing such as school uniforms, nurses' uniforms, protective clothing as well as graduation gowns.

PPC Botswana General Manager, Tuelo Botlhole said; "At PPC Botswana, we are the gateway to innovation, creativity and carry the responsibility of shaping the infrastructural, economic and socio-economic future of Botswana."

The How To Us project is one of the many that have been supported by PPC in the country. The project started off in 2005 as an initiative from 19 different minds and ideas from the women of Molepolole. Currently, only five are at the helm because others pulled out along the way when the going got tough, while some have passed on.

Baakanyang Leshona, the Project Manager, said it was not easy from the beginning until PPC came on board just under a decade ago. "We started in 2005, starting off by buying a shelf company. We were 19 but some pulled out because we were not making any profits, only seven of us remained and later two also pulled out," said Leshona.

How To Us, like many other small businesses locally, struggled to pay rental and would get threats from landlords. Things began to work well for them after getting into a partnership agreement with PPC Botswana in 2010. "We signed a memorandum of agreement with PPC in 2010. They then provided us with all the building materials to construct our own factory," Leshona told this publication, further noting that the Department of Gender Affairs paid the contractor who built the factory while the United Nations Development Programme purchased some of the sewing machines on their behalf.

Last year, PPC brought in trainers from South Africa to host a skills training workshop that provided How To Us with the necessary skills needed to make the accessories from cement bags, as well as equipping them with administrative and marketing skills.

Another member of the team, Esther Lelokwane said their business is now stable as they have acquired tenders to supply a number of organs in the Kweneng region. "We supply school uniforms and protective clothing to the council in Molepolole and Mabutsane," she said.

She added; "Being where we are it is through patience, persistence, perseverance and commitment towards our passion." She said that through the business, they are able to take care of their families.

How To Us now offers training to young individuals in Molepolole who want to venture into the trade. They also indicated that they do provide part-time employment to a batch of locals when they have outstanding orders to clear.

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